The RiverDogs rallied from 4-0 down by scoring seven unanswered runs, all in the sixth inning, while second baseman Diego Castillo roped four hits to match a career-high as Charleston rolled past the Lexington Legends 7-4 in Thursday night’s opener at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
The comeback marked the second biggest deficit the RiverDogs have overcome this year, and the seven-run sixth was the second biggest inning for Charleston’s offense this season. The four-hit game for Castillo was the 19-year-old Venezuelan’s first since August of 2015 in the Dominican Summer League.
Trailing 4-0 heading into the sixth, Charleston (63-53, 29-17) had the top of their lineup before having seven in a row reach base to begin the onslaught. The top three in the order all singled to set up a chance for right fielder Isiah Gilliam who walked to put the RiverDogs on the board. Designated hitter Steven Sensley swung at the next pitch from reliever Travis Eckert (4-8) to cut the lead in half in a flash with an RBI single; shortstop Oswaldo Cabrera bounced a double past first baseman Manny Olloque to pull the game back even at four apiece. Catcher Eduardo Navas gave the RiverDogs their first lead with a sac fly to right field.
The big inning should have been cut short with a one-run advantage until a crucial break went Charleston’s way. After Vince Conde struck out, Dom Thompson-Williams blooped a routine pop up to shallow right that second baseman Gabriel Cancel lost into twilight, and the flair shot landed in for a run-scoring single. Castillo made it 7-4 RiverDogs with his third hit of the night to chase Eckert.
The RiverDogs could barely touch Lexington starter Gerson Garabito over the first five innings. The Dominican righty turned in 4 2/3 scoreless with three hits allowed, all singles, until Charleston capitalized on the move to the bullpen.
Righty Rony Garcia (1-2) didn’t have his best night, but picked up his first Class-A win. After giving up three runs in the opening inning and another unearned tally in the third, he clamped down to retire 11 in a row. The 19-year-old Dominican struck out four with no walks in six innings of work.
Lefty Phillip Diehl logged a pair of perfect innings to bridge the gap to David Sosebee who let two men aboard to open the ninth before registering his 11th save.
The RiverDogs take on the Legends in game two on Friday night at 7:05 from Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Charleston sends Dominican righty Alexander Vargas (0-2, 2.28) to the hill seeking his first Class-A win. Lexington will counter with right-hander Anthony Bender (4-4, 3.77). The game can be tuned into on “The Big Talker” WTMA 1250 AM and online streaming audio via riverdogs.com and the RiverDogs’ TuneIn Radio app station.